Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Powers of Observation

Tonight I enjoyed an Alley Theatre performance of Sherlock Holmes and the Crucifer of Blood. It has been awhile since I read any of Doyle's original stories, but I always enjoyed them. In tonight's play, however, I saw the character's remarkable powers of observation in a slightly new light. The claim that his conclusions were "elementary" had a bit of a gift in it.

Although many people fail to see what is there to be seen, the potential to notice still exists for all of us. It is not beyond human capacity to be awake and aware, it is simply not what many people choose to be. "Coasting along" or "sleepwalking" or whatever one wishes to call it merely requires less effort than consciousness. Or at least that is the way it seems sometimes. But the ability to notice is always there when we choose to tap into it.

For Holmes, at least in this depiction, the opportunity to use his powers of observation was a source of elation. He felt most alive when he was noticing all there was to notice and drawing connections between every detail. While I am not advocating going out and trying to solve mysterious crimes, I would like to suggest that Holmes was not all that unique. In many ways, I believe that willingness to notice life is what gives me a chance to feel more alive.

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